Missouri legislators met Thursday via Zoom to discuss the 2020 legislative session with the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting included Patt Lilly, Chamber CEO and Missouri Sens. Tony Luetkemeyer and Dan Hegeman along with state Reps. Sheila Solon, Bill Falkner and Brenda Shields.
All the legislators agreed that this was a difficult and unique session due to COVID-19 and the time was cut about six weeks short. Excluding budget bills, Luetkemeyer said there were roughly 30 bills passed this year, while during a normal session there typically are upward of 60 bills.
Each legislator discussed bills they worked to get passed. Luetkemeyer said Senate Bill 676, which protects taxpayers, had a provision added in to carve out taxing on stimulus checks.
“Missouri is one of only six states because of the way our tax code is written that we were going to tax those COVID-19 stimulus checks,” Luetkemeyer said. “My belief was that it was not right because people are struggling right now.”
Hegeman said a huge importance was put on the budget and addressing needs for the state due to COVID-19.
“We put in $30 million for small businesses to tap into these COVID funds and also $20 million for Missouri meatpacking plants for the CARES Act fund,” Hegeman said.
Solon was pleased to have her House Bill 1414 pushed across the finish line to make life better for young people in all parts of the state. The bill focuses on the foster care system and improving certain aspects of it.
“The bill says that if the family support team and the judge think it’s in the best interest of the child to go to court they will, but otherwise they want them to lead normal lives and not have their lives disrupted by being pulled out of school,” Solon said.
Shields also helped pass legislation involving young children and childcare providers. She wanted to create nonexpiring child care licenses.
“We thought that we are putting extreme burdens on our child care providers to have to go in and apply for these licenses every two years,” Shields said. “The inspections will stay the same if they keep the same quality and the same safety that we expect for our child care providers.”
Solon believes legislators should be very proud these bills passed because they’ll be very impactful for the children in the state.
Falkner was impressed with how well all of the legislators worked together this session, but hoped a few more bills could’ve been passed.
“I was disappointed we didn’t get the internet sales tax across the finish line,” Falkner said. “I just can’t understand why we continue to protect out-of-state businesses and don’t back our statewide businesses.”
The legislators agreed that Gov. Mike Parson likely will call a special session and have legislators return in September or October to discuss more on the budget and other aspects related to helping the state due to COVID-19.